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End of Term Report Part 6 18/06/2013

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

28- Connor Smith

The interesting thing here of course was that whilst Sean Murray’s involvement was dwindling, another young Irish midfielder was staking an unlikely claim for first team action.  Connor started twice, came off the bench half a dozen times and, as significantly, was frequently a non-playing substitute, perceived as a viable option, until a knee injury ended his season in November.  The half hour or so that I saw of Connor in action – spread across three of those sub appearances – weren’t a great deal to pass judgement on, but he looks composed, tough and confident, and rather contradicts the popular assertion amongst the lazier appraisals of our new approach regarding the lack of scope for youngsters to come through.

Next Season:  With Connor over his knee problem, he looks set to push for involvement again in the new season.  Except that kids don’t get a look in at Watford any more apparently, even though we’ve only got 14 players signed for next season.  Hold on, that doesn’t work does it?  Anyway, it’s a bloody disgrace.  “Boss, that Watford bit you asked for is ready…”

29- Adam Thompson

For all that Adam has been knocking around for a while now, it’s easy to forget that his senior debut nearly three years ago came as a 17 year-old.  Nonetheless, slightly concerning that despite his impressive first team introduction two years ago under Malky Mackay he enjoyed limited competitive action this season, playing only twice during a month at Wycombe in August, and then succumbing to a shoulder injury after only eight minutes’ match time at Barnet in January.  He also came off the bench three times for the Hornets, albeit as numbers and options dwindled.

Next Season: Still in the picture  – more so than Dale Bennett, for example – but needs to make an impact in the final year of his contract.

30- Jonathan Bond

Ultimately Jonathan Bond’s  season will probably be remembered more for a period of alarming inactivity, the ten minutes or so that he spent prone on the bloodstained turf following his injury against Leeds United, than for his active involvement. Which is a shame really because he played the limited hand that the role of backup keeper offers him rather well, most markedly during a six-and-a-half game run afforded him by the hamstring injury sustained by Manuel Almunia against Derby in February.  A terrific shot-stopper, there was nonetheless a visible improvement in the composure of the defence once Almunia returned – harsh to criticise Bond for that, he’s sixteen years Almunia’s junior, but his decision making is sometimes a little hesitant.

Nonetheless, a great prospect who made as much progress as he can have hoped over the campaign.  Worth noting also that after the collision with Ikechi Anya in the Leeds game (the push from Dominic Poleon which caused it echoing Belgian international Dries Mertens’ push that put Gary Cahill out of Euro 2012 a year earlier), Bond was bold enough to make himself available for selection at the KP Stadium just five days later.  Doesn’t augur badly, that.

Next Season:  One of the many interesting subplots of the summer contract farrago; Bond is out of contract, and whilst it’s inconceivable that we won’t be offering him a new one it will be interesting to see quite how well the rumoured top flight interest stacks up against Bond’s view of his place at Vicarage Road.

31- Tommie Hoban

It’s easy to forget that as the team was announced and digested before the pivotal game at Huddersfield, a selection which on the back of five games without a win yielded four team changes and a switch in formation, it was Tommie Hoban’s full debut that was perhaps the most surprising development.  Surprising because this wasn’t how it was supposed to pan out;  the new arrivals were being drip fed in, we’d still to see Ekstrand, Geijo, Fanchone for example and had had only glimpses of several others.  And here was a young defender, not being teased with a place on the bench but actually being dumped straight into the mixer…

He never looked back, and the near-five year contract he’d been tied to a month earlier suddenly looked like an extremely useful move.  Sharp reactions, quick over the ground, great anticipation, Hoban looked more like a veteran than a teenager.  And certainly a top flight defender in waiting.

There were, it must be conceded, suggestions of tiredness shortly before his season was effectively ended on New Years’ Day (after one game back six weeks later a recurrence would end his campaign).  He can easily be forgiven that though, as evidence by his Young Player of the Season award.  A gem.

Next Season: The only question mark is quite how big a problem this ankle injury turns out to be; if there’s been any feedback since his May operation in the US, I’ve missed it.  That aside, a nailed-on starting position beckons.

33- Nyron Nosworthy

As our squad began to swell last August, the one certainty was that we’d be better equipped than anyone in the division to cope with a swathe of injuries.  As it turned out, we needed all that cover in defensive positions having suffered an injury glut that in any other season would have been disastrous.  Fitz Hall, Neuton, Tommie Hoban, and Nos all spent long periods on the sidelines;  we used every inch of defensive cover and it says a lot that the injury list is mentioned as mere detail rather than something that dominated and capsized our season.

Nos took the chances that he had with both hands, and looked every bit the part in the no-nonsense bruiser role at the back that was otherwise often filled by Fitz (the pair made 37 league starts between them, but only lined up together once – at Ashton Gate.  You can have too much of a good thing, it seems).  He settled perfectly comfortably into the three-man back line having missed three months with a hamstring injury picked up whilst with Jamaica before rupturing his achilles, again whilst on international duty, ruling him out from mid-March onwards.  It says a lot that despite being one of the “old guard”, losing Nos felt like a hammer blow at the time – and amongst the many what-ifs following Leeds (and Wembley), one wonders whether we’d have benefited from either Fitz or Nos being available for the last ten games or so.

Next Season: Nos limped around the pitch post-Leicester on crutches whilst still training his camera-phone at the Rookery.  Probably quite a jumpy recording, that.  Prognoses at the time of his injury were that he’d be out for four months, i.e. back over the summer… let’s hope so, it’s inconceivable that he won’t otherwise have a role to play in the last year of his contract.


1. mikepeter - 18/06/2013

KC Stadium? I’m writing a letter to the readers’ editor.

Matt Rowson - 18/06/2013

Picky, picky…. (thanks Mike, now amended. How could I confuse two such well named stadia? I’ll be forgetting the name of our new shirt sponsor next…)

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